Blog Archives

Dinner Menu: Cream of Potato Cheese Soup And Blueberry Crisp

DSC_5785 [1600x1200]

Yummy JeffreyW photo

I have an abundance of potatoes that I need to use up. I’m loving my convection oven because I can bake up potatoes in about 30 minutes. So that’s using up a few. And I’m having guests over for pot roast on Sunday, which will use up a few more.

Still, I have a big bag of potatoes from my brother’s garden that I don’t want to go to waste. It’s blustery cold here, so soup sounded like a great idea. So creamy potato soup (mmm, with cheese) it is, with a complete dinner menu, to boot.

On the board:

  1. Cream of Potato Cheese Soup
  2. Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad
  3. Blueberry Crisp

Cream of Potato Cheese Soup

  • 6 large potatoes, cubed (peeling opt)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp ea: sage, rosemary, basil
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt & pepper to taste

Lg. saucepan (2 to 4 qt)

In saucepan or Dutch oven, cover potatoes with water and boil until fork tender, drain all but 2 cups water. Add onions, garlic and spices to potatoes*. In a bowl mix together  milk, flour, salt & pepper. Mix well, no lumps, add melted butter. Add to potatoes and mix well.  Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, add cheese, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

*A great trick is to remove about ½ cup of the cooked potatoes and mash, then add back into soup, this gives you an extra creamy texture.

Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad

  • 10 oz spinach, washed
  • 2 oranges, peeled, remove white skin & cut into chunks (you can substitute equivalent canned mandarin orange slices)
  • ½ red onion, sliced in rings
  • 1 oz bleu cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing

large salad bowl

Tear spinach leaves. Layer in a large salad bowl. Top with orange chunks, onion, sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts. Add dressing & toss before serving.

Blueberry Crisp

Topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter until mixture is crumbly

Filling:

  • 1 tbsp butter, melted and spread on bottom of baking dish
  • 16 oz frozen blueberries
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • dash of lemon juice

8×8 baking dish, greased

Combine blueberries, sugar, lemon juice & cornstarch. Spread in buttered baking dish. Top fruit mixture with flour topping. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes, until top is golden and blueberries are bubbly.

Shopping List:

  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 oz bleu cheese,
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing
  • 1 stick + 3 tbsp butter
  • 12 oz frozen blueberries

Also: cornstarch, sugar, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, sage, rosemary, basil, garlic

 



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Thanksgiving Files

_DSC5565 [1024x768]

Is this thing on? I know it’s been forever – the house, work and puppies have taken most of my time. Cooking lately is mostly just for sustanance, nothing terribly creative. But Thanksgiving is almost here! Time to get cookin’.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, next to 4th of July. Food, family, friends…and leftovers. I’m going to have a house full this year and I’m excited to host. Although I wasn’t expecting to have a puppy thrown in the mix, but that just makes it more interesting. I have compiled some of my most requested holiday recipes for tonight’s exchange.

JefferyW makes Cornbread Stuffing, (pictured above) part 1 here and part 2 here.

Roasted Butternut Apple Soup makes a great starter, recipe here.

Hearty Garlic Mashed Potatoes, click here – my family loves these, though the first time I made them they mocked me until they were served because the cooking method is so unusual. I cook them early and keep them warm in a slow-cooker while everything else cooks and stove top space is at a premium.

Two Brussels Sprout dishes: Pan Roasted with Pancetta and Onions (recipe here) and JeffreyW’s Brussels Sprout and Potato Au Gratin (click here)

Yum. What do you mean I have to take a bunch of pictures before I can even try it?

There will be a variety of pies this year, but instead of the traditional Pumpkin Pie, I’m making Pumpkin Cream Pie (above), the recipe is here, plus there are additional pumpkin dessert ideas at the link.

For the main course, we’ve made turkeys a bunch of ways here, including a Spatchcock Turkey, recipe here. For something more traditional, here are some ideas from people smarter than I am: turkey four different ways, good stuff here.

What’s on the menu for your Thanksgiving this year? Do you have a must-have recipe for your holiday dinner?

I’m not a fan of traditional candied sweet potatoes, so tonight’s featured recipes are some non-traditional styles for sweet potatoes.

Cajun Sweet Potatoes

  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup butter,  melted
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ tsp cumin (opt)

Covered casserole dish, well-greased

Steamer and saucepan

In saucepan, add water, steamer and sweet potatoes. Steam until you can easily stick a fork in them. They don’t need to be completely soft. About 10-15 minutes. Add sweet potatoes to casserole dish. Combine oil, butter and spices. Pour evenly over potatoes. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are soft. You can adjust cooking time if you prefer your firmer or softer potatoes.

Sweet Potatoes w/Apples

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 apples, cored & sliced
  • 8 oz can sliced pineapple (including liquid)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt

2 qt casserole dish, greased

Add ingredients to casserole dish. Stir gently and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes, uncovered, until apples and potatoes are very soft. Cover if it begins to brown too much

That’s it for this week. I hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.   – TaMara



_DSC5565 [1024x768]

 

Loving My Grape Vines And The Jelly, Too

grape-vines-10-31-16

My Concord grape vines are still bringing happiness with their vivid fall colors.

Making Grape Jelly was much easier than I thought. I was intimidated at first, because my experience with Apple Butter was painful. Jelly was much easier.

Evening Harvest

Probably the most difficult part was separating the grapes from the stems. I did a bunch at a time over a few days, so it wasn’t terribly tedious. Once they were free from stems, I whipped them through the VitaMix and then ran them through a fine sieve. That was enough to keep the flavor of the skins, but separate them from the seeds.

sugar-and-pectin

I made four batches as the grapes ripened in nice small batches. I decided to go with a low-sugar pectin (this one) because LFern had a box and gave it to me. Come to find out, it is one of the few without added sugar in the pectin itself. The grapes were sweet enough that I’m glad I did. There is only about a tablespoon of sugar per jar.

calcium-water

Calcium water is used to help set the jelly. It has a smoother texture than regular jelly. Also, because there is so much less sugar, the color is deeper and not as jewel toned as high sugar jelly. Turns out it’s all that sugar that gives it the vibrant, clear hues.

bring-to-a-boil

It only took about five minutes cooking from start to finish. Since I was freezing it instead of canning, that was it for cooking. The finished product lasts for up to a year in the freezer and about two weeks once thawed and refrigerated.

finished-jelly

It is delicious and I cannot wait for next year’s harvest. I’m not including a recipe because it’s best to follow the one that is included with your pectin. In my research it appears each one has different ratio of ingredients to get the best texture and flavor.

Anyone else make jams and jellys this fall? How about wine? I gave way almost as many as I picked to someone who was going to make wine. Can’t wait to hear how it came out.



grape-vines-10-31-16

Garden Fresh Pasta Dinner

I had friends over on Sunday and by request, made a garden fresh entrée. The advantage with this type of dinner is, it is quick and easy to prepare while guests are there. We had pleasant conversation as I put it together, which from start to finish was less than 20 minutes.

I apologize in advance, I have no photos of the final dish because I was having such a good time I completely forgot to even get my camera out.

Garden Fresh Pasta

  • 4 tomatoes
  • about 4 basil leaves (or 1/2 tsp dry)

=====

  • 12 oz linguine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper (or red or orange as desired), chopped into large pieces
  • 2 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 large eggplant, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tomatoes (I used a variety from my garden and my friends’ garden), chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dry)

saucepan, skillet, large pot

Blend 4 tomatoes and 4 basil leaves together until smooth and add to saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer while prepping the remainder of the dinner.

In large pot, cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente. Drain, but don’t rinse.

In skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil, add onions. Saute for a minute and then add peppers. Stir occasionally until they are softened and onions are translucent. Add additional tbsp of oil, once heated, add garlic, zucchini and eggplant. Saute until tender. Finally, add tomatoes and basil, cook for one to two minutes and then add the tomato mixture from the saucepan. Stir together gently and bring to a low boil for about 1 minute. Serve over pasta.

I served it with grated Parmesan, tossed salad and fresh baked bread

Go wild and add whatever fall garden vegetables you have on hand….



 

Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs Without Oil

Pan roasted chicken thighs

I could have sworn I posted this before, but I found this photo in my saved dinner photos and it hasn’t been used and I didn’t see any recipes using this technique. This is a great way to get very crisp and moist chicken thighs without added oil. It’s very similar to how you crisp up duck skin.

Start with a cast iron skillet or oven safe frying pan, COLD. Add two bone-in, skin on thighs (seasoned with salt and pepper), skin side down. Turn the burner to MEDIUM and let cook until the skin is super crisp, about 6 minutes. Turn heat down if it looks as if the skin will burn before rendering all the fat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Flip over thighs sprinkle rosemary or tarragon over them. Add quartered potatoes and sliced carrots, tuck them down and around the thighs so they cook in the rendered fat and juices. Bake at 350 degrees until thighs register 170 to 175 degrees. About 30-45 minutes.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serves two.

You can also braise chicken this way, recipe here.



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Pears and Grilling

Pears Pecorino Walnuts

Sometime contributor Michael Fallai shares a lot of terrific recipes on Facebook. The only hitch is they are often in Italian. Tonight’s featured recipe was one of those. If you ever want a laugh, let Google translate a recipe for you…and don’t let dissolve cheese in a water bath, or let your wine evaporate on flame lively intimidate you.

Perusing the weekly ads, I pulled together a few recipes based on what was on sale this week and headed out to the grill.

First up, Curried Turkey Burgers, recipe here. Great served on fresh pita and grill some fresh eggplant from the garden.

Collard greens were everywhere at the farmer’s market last weekend, so Collard Greens with Bacon seems timely, click here.

The dinner menu took advantage of the abundance of pears right now, Grilled Salmon in Dill Sauce with Pear Raspberry Salad. Click here for recipes and full menu.

20160825_155025(1600x1200)

JeffreyW and Mrs. J made some delicious looking Cream Horns (and to this Italian girl, seems the only difference between these and Cannoli is the filling). Purty pictures and directions can be found here.

What’s on your menu this last weekend of August? What garden fresh items are you enjoying right now? What are you grilling up?

Tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at top) became a poignant reminder of the earthquake in Italy. I had pulled it off the Italy site, translated it and put the ingredients on my shopping list just days before it hit.

Here is my version:

Pasta with Pears, Pecorino and Walnuts

  • 10 oz linguine pasta
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large pears, very ripe, cored and cubed
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano (plus extra for garnish)
  • 4 oz cream cheese or Mascarpone, cut into small cubes
  • dash of white wine (opt)
  • salt and pepper to taste

skillet, large pot

Bring water to boil in large pot, add salt and pasta and cook to al dente.  Drain but do not rinse and add back to pot, off heat.

While pasta is cooking, heat skillet on medium heat, add walnuts. Stir constantly until lightly toasted, remove and set aside.

Add butter to skillet and melt before adding pears. Stir gently until well coated with butter. Cook until softened, gently stirring occasionally (you don’t want to break up the pears).

Add both cheeses and stir in completely. Let simmer on medium heat until lightly boiling. Add wine and let simmer away (about 5 minutes). Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine pasta, pear mixture and walnuts in large pot and mix well. Serve with extra Pecorino for garnish.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, enjoy fading days of August – TaMara



 

Summer Grilling: Curried Turkey Burgers

I haven’t posted a lot of grilling recipes this summer because, well, let’s face it, I haven’t posted a lot of recipes! But this week I’ll post a few favorites. I’m still not doing much grilling because I’m saving up for a Traeger grill. Friends have one and I can’t imagine grilling or smokin’ on anything else since I’ve used it.

Until then, I’ll fry these up in my cast iron skillet. Great on the grill or in the skillet. And now that I’ve finally found a good source for tasty pita bread, a dinner favorite.

Serve with fresh corn on the cob and grilled eggplant (I have three Japanese eggplant almost ready to pick).

Curried Turkey Burgers

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 3 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground curry
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 4 pita breads

bowl

In bowl combine all ingredients except bread and mix well. Form 4 patties and grill, broil or fry to desired doneness. Serve in pita bread. Ground mustard and mayonnaise make good toppings or a little Greek salad dressing, along with lettuce & tomatoes.

aa42b83c49c25370_shutterstock_387852.xxxlarge_2x



 

Plum Crumble

Plums

What to do with all those plums? We’ve been eating as many as possible and I’m thinking of freezing some more. If frozen, this recipe is the perfect way to use them.

Plum crumble

Plum Crumble

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 oz chopped pecans or almonds
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 cups plums, pitted, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • ¼ tsp ginger

8×8 baking dish, greased

bowl

In bowl, cut together ½ cup sugar, brown sugar, 1 cup flour, oatmeal, cinnamon & butter until crumbly. In greased baking dish, spread crushed nuts on the bottom and drizzle with melted butter. Mix together orange juice, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp flour and ginger. Toss gently with fruit and spread over nuts. Top with crumbled mixture and bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes. Top should be golden and filling bubbly. Let cool 10 minutes before serving to let fruit set.



 

Tomato-Pasta Salad

P1050847

Yesterday’s bounty from my yard and some bonus homemade salsa

Tomato season is in full swing. Every meal has tomatoes in one form or another. This is a nice combination of flavors to shake things up from the usual pasta salads:

Tomato-Pasta Salad

  • 10 oz dry rotini pasta, cooked, drained, chilled
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Dijon or stone-ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 oz fresh basil
  • 4 oz fresh spinach leaves
  • 2 large tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 oz Kalamata (Greek green) olives
  • 4 oz shredded parmesan
  • 2 oz crumbled Feta
  • 8 oz diced ham (opt)

serving bowl, bowl, saucepan

In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, pepper, garlic & basil.  Slowly whisk in oil.  To serving bowl, add pasta, fresh basil, spinach, tomatoes, olives, parmesan, opt. ham and toss with dressing.  Garnish with crumbled feta.



 

Dutch Chocolate Gelato

Hazelnut Gelato1

Pictured above is Hazelnut Gelatorecipe here.

There will be a photo in the recipe exchange tonight of the chocolate gelato and I’ll copy it here…

It’s ice cream time and gelato is so easy in my ice cream maker. The first batch in the new house.

Dutch Chocolate Gelato

Begin with the Gelato base (below)

After you beat the eggs and sugar, sift in 2/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa. Combine well and then continue recipe as directed below.

Gelato di Crema (Gelato Plain Base)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup sugar (for the Hazelnut Gelato, reduce to 1/2 cup)

In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper* the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185°F. Do not bring to a boil.

*The best way to temper is to add a tablespoon at a time until you’ve added about 1/4 cup. Then you can add a full ladle at a time, slowly.

Recipe makes 1 to 1-1/2 quarts